Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Great way to start the day

La Boulange

It is said that a good breakfast is an essential part of your nutritional day, but some start you off even better than others if you account for the atmospheric component. Dad and I started the day out right a few days ago at La Boulange in Mill Valley's Strawberry Village.

Breakfast Pizza

I got my day started with a Breakfast Pizza. It was as delicious as it is beautiful. Perfectly cooked scrambled eggs over a crisp pastry crust with spears of bright green asparagus, spritely red cherry tomatoes, with some cheese and some pert chive clippings adorning the top as garnish.

Mushroom Fritatta

Dad tried the Mushroom Fritatta. It was a petite but substantial round creation of egg and mushroom topped with a creamy tomato sauce which Dad liked. He kept saying it was too much salad, but that was a compliment to La Boulange as it had a generous heap of the freshest lightly dressed mixed greens on the side with a fresh, fragrant slice of bread. I tasted a bit of the salad, and it was perfect. This would make a great light lunch too. We enjoyed our breakfast and it set us up for a wonderful day! I've heard an branch has opened in Novato at Hamilton, so we'll have to try that one too.

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 2
Noncritical: 0

Previously reviewed:
October 6, 2007
September 15, 2007

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Old use but good use for left overs

Homey Casserole

Yesterday I made an old fashioned casserole from veggie stir fry leftovers, adding some water chestnuts, tofu and Campbell's Creamy Mushroom Soup as a sauce. And not to forget a sprinkle of cheese to melt on top during the last 5 minutes of warming. We enjoyed it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

On a fine day


One fine day, like today, I went back to a local Japanese restaurant, Amberjack Sushi in Mill Valley for an early dinner.

Miso Soup

It came with some deliciously complex miso soup.

Gobo maki

And I added an order of Gobo maki (burdock root, pickled in this case). It was refreshing.

Salmon Teriyaki

It's rather fun to see how various restaurants make dishes with the same name with their own special touch. In the case of Amberjack's Salmon Teriyaki dinner, the salmon is cut into easy to eat with chopsticks strips. The mixed green salad was fresh and a nice side with the salmon which tasted 'meaty'. The teriyaki sauce seemed to be a brush pour on add after the salmon was grilled. I enjoyed my meal and the service was prompt and polite.

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 1
Noncritical: 2

Previously reviewed:
March 5, 2008
September 21, 2006

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Good time to try this Ross hidden gem

Trattoria Fresco

The other evening I was near Ross and thought I'd try the Italian restaurant there that has been on my list for some time. Fresco Trattoria, or Marco's Trattoria as the red and white sign above the awning reads, is not new, but the food and service is as thoughtfully done as a newly opened restaurant that wants to succeed produces. After you've placed your order a basket with fresh bread is delivered, along with some wonderfully cured olives in a dish with olive oil.

Arugula salad with walnets and gargonzola

The owner, Marco was the only one working there the evening I enjoyed dinner. I was quite amazed at how he was so friendly to all, and deftly waited, bussed and cooked sublime food without missing a beat. It may have proven too much for a full restaurant, but that evening had diners arriving in a well-paced way for this. I started with a lovely, heaping fresh Arugula salad with apple, walnuts and Gorgonzola cheese. It was ah-so-lightly and perfectly dressed and the argula was tender and not overly peppery.


Marco served me some of the most perfectly cooked pasta I've had in a very long time, the Casareccia. It was a spiral pasta in a caramelized onion and simple tomato sauce. He knew the EXACT moment to take the pasta out to have it with the perfect 'bite'.

Bongo Bongo

With such perfection as a prelude, how could I not try one of his desserts? I opted for the whimsically named "Bongo Bongo", which were pastry puffs filled with Chantilly cream and drenched in a seductive chocolate sauce. My evening with Marco was perfection, and I've been sorry I left this place untried for so long! It is located right across from Ross Commons, and the summer season is the slow season, which seems like a great opportunity to enjoy it.

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 0
Noncritical: 5
Last inspected: 4/17/2008

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

New Bistro coming to Tiburon

Bistro 35

In Tiburon today for lunch and noticed that a sign has gone up in the old Sweden House window: Coming Soon... Bistro 35 (Patisserie). A window to keep an eye on!

So sad about three greats passing in the last couple days, Ed McMahon, Farah Fawcett and now Michael Jackson.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Another fine catch

Pacific Catch

We had a little celebratory dinner with Glen and Jessica at Pacific Catch the other evening. Celebrating wellness after that bout with H1N1. Glen was instrumental in keeping things going during that period at the house and we wanted to thank him.

Table treats

The usual table treats were brought over after we were seated.

Seared Ahi Macadamia

Jessica chose an appetizer for her main, Seared Ahi Macadamia. The ahi was sprinkled with toasted macadamia nuts, and it was accompanied by a mango salad with Thai style citrus sauce. She said it was great!

Tokyo Salmon

I had the Tokyo Salmon, which was basically salmon fish & chips, which were hot and tasty. The fish was really meaty and solid. I opted for regular fries instead of the sweet potato fries.

BBQ Unagi Wasabi Bowl

Glen thoroughly enjoyed the BBQ Unagi (Japanese Eel) Wasabi Bowl. Along with the eel, a generously sized bowl of sushi rice was topped with wakame salad, avocado, daikon sprouts, cucumber, ginger, sesame seeds, shredded nori and soy-wasabi sauce.

Fish & Sweet Potato Chips

Dad enjoyed his regular Fish & Chips with Sweet Potato Fries, cleaning up his whole plate and asking for dessert!

Mochi Fondue

So I had the Mochi Fondue, with several flavors of mochi ice cream cut up and ready to dip in a fudgy chocolate sauce.

Single Mochi Ball

Jessica enjoyed a dainty single Mochi Ball, coffee flavored.

Dulce de leche spring roll with vanilla ice cream

Dad went for broke with this special Dulce de Leche with ice cream special. I tried a bite, and it was special!

Passion Mango Cheesecake

I'm not sure but that Glen chose the best, the Passion Mango Cheesecake. He said it was great, and it looked very densely delicious. The service was good, the food as well and we were happy.

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 0
Noncritical: 0

Previously reviewed:
April 24, 2008
February 18, 2008
January 25, 2007

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Monday, June 22, 2009



As I walked in the entrance of the new Indian restaurant in Novato, Anokha, I was greeted by the scent of roses. I looked around for the source, but didn't see any roses. I asked the gentleman who greeted me about the scent, who said that it was rose incense. I have never smelled incense that was so reminiscent of fresh roses, it was amazing. And that was just the start of my positive experience here.

Aloo Tikki

I spotted a dish I'd never heard of before on the appetizer menu, so I had to order the Aloo Tikki. The appetizer is described as potato patties with ginger peas, red onions and spices, served with Chana Masala. This was an awesome dish, and one that I could have eaten as a main course. The smooth canvas of the potato patties was complemented by the chana masala with its complex flavors.

Malai Kofta and rice

Next came the main course, Malai Kofta and rice. The smooth sauce was so rich and lush I wanted not to miss a drop. The spiced potato and cheese within the sauce was in torpedo shape, and was delicious and filling. In hindsight, as delicious as this was, I don't think I would have ordered the appetizer and main having potato as the main attraction simply because it was SO filling. The combination of cheese, potatoes, nuts and raisins blended with spices was just perfect.

Onion Naan

Of course I had to try one of their proffered naan breads, choosing onion naan. This naan had red onions liberally mixed into it and fresh chopped greens adorning the outside. It was wonderful. The service was perfect, every time I was ready to have dishes removed, they were magically whisked away before they could become an annoyance. The waitstaff looked professional in crisp light blue long-sleeved shirts and dark slacks. The whole experience added up to nothing short of sublime. So much so that I to Tweet during the meal:

"annahaight is at Anokha in Novato - wow! Try this Indian cuisine before the masses discover this new place!" (You can follow me at http://www.twitter.com/annahaight)

This restaurant opened very recently, and if the food is any guide, will become a Marin favorite.

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 2
Noncritical: 4
Last inspected: 6/15/2009

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Offending cap

Ketchup bottle cap

I hope you all have had or celebrated with someone honoring Father's today. Dad requested my Mom's biscuits with eggs this morning, so that's how we kicked off the celebration. Then we had lunch before going to see Food, Inc. The movie is highly recommendable, but be sure and have your meal BEFORE you go see it. And if you don't have a restaurant faux pas like the above, then you'll be in good order. Yes, this is what came off the ketchup bottle that we were handed.

Often restaurants 'top off' the old bottles and put them back on the table. Just after college, I was a waitress for a short period, and recall that if you had the last shift, you were responsible for the ketchup refill. There was a big white bucket on legs with circles of plastic on the top to hold ketchup bottles at an angle to pour in a big mix into the bucket. We would take the ones that had the least amount left in them and pour six at a time into this bucket. Then you put a newer bottle in the middle underneath where there was a little door that opened to top off the bottle by pulling a piece of plastic aside. The one this cap was on had been overfilled, all the way to the brim, and obviously the cap has become disguisting after repeated use and partial dry out. I called over the waitress and suggested that this bottle with ripped and faded label and old ketchup encrusted cap was ready to be 'retired'. She said "Eewww!" very descriptively before picking up the cap and bottle and wisking it from sight.

Ah! The simple pleasures


Simple is good. Elegant in fact. Being in Sausalito at work, it was a natural thing to mosey over to Fish the other day for lunch. I was taken with The Crab Roll. It was described as "A West coast rendition of the East coast favorite. Sweet Dungeness crab served atop a toasted Acme torpedo roll with organic Straus butter and chives. Served with shoestring fries or greens on the side."

The Crab Roll

And here it is. You don't have to do much to sweet, fresh Dungeness crab to make it a show stopper. This was the best!

Clipper Yacht Harbor

I enjoyed walking along Clipper Yacht Harbor where Fish is located and taking a couple of shots in this early summer perfect weather.

Clipper Yacht Harbor

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 1
Noncritical: 1

Previously reviewed:

September 23, 2008
May 25, 2008
August 14, 2007
February 10, 2007

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Nice vegetarian selections


I felt in need of a fortifying yet light lunch the other day, and thought I'd see how Rumi was faring since the last visit. It is still bright and cheery with fresh flowers in the dining room.


And the freshly baked Taftoon bread came quickly with some sweet butter.

Vegetarian Gheymeh

It was nice to see a vegetarian section which had a lot of choice. The rice was delicate and delicious, and the Vegetarian Gheymeh with its lime punch was a great antidote! The Vegetarian Gheymeh contains yellow split peas and caramelized onions and usually has cubes of tofu in it. The tofu was blended into the sauce in this case, which actually was quite good. The split peas and onions are simmered slowly in a tomato saffron sauce with a whole dried lime. I enjoyed it and hope to explore some of the other vegetarian choices in the future.

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 1
Noncritical: 0
Last inspected: 4/20/2009

Previously reviewed:
March 17, 2009

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cute new spot in Sausalito


Dad and I got over to Cibo in Sausalito the other day for lunch, which I turned into brunch. It's a simple yet very elegant and pleasant place. It's great to see a new restaurant with all the closings in the past few months.

Fresh Lemonade

The freshly made lemonade with fresh mint in it in a large glass container on the counter looked SO good we had to have it. It was very refreshing.

Prosciutto and mozzarella panini with tomato and pesto spread

Dad wanted a panini, so he ordered one stuffed with prosciutto, mozzarella, tomato, and pesto spread.

French Toast

I went the brunch route and had their French Toast. Wow. I usually don't like thick French toast where it has been soaked all the way through, but this was quite the exception. It could even convert me to this style when executed so well. The interior of the French bread was the perfect texture, like a soft custard. The fruit that garnished it was a peak of flavor and the whole dish was fabulous. Cibo is only open for breakfast and lunch. I have a feeling this new restaurant will be a keeper here in Sausalito.

Restaurant Inspection Results
This one is so new, it's not listed. If you want to check on it, go to the County's main search page at: http://marin.ca.gegov.com/marin/search.cfm.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Early Father's Day brunch

Il Fornaio

Holidays such as those honoring our parents seem to fill up the restaurants with noisy hordes. My father is uncomfortable around noisy hordes since at 88 he has trouble hearing and trying to make sense of all the inputs around him. So it seemed the perfect solution to celebrate Father's Day a bit early. So we tried Il Fornaio's Sunday brunch in Corte Madera yesterday. And it was the right thing. Besides the food, Dad loved the friendliness of Alberto our waiter, not feeling rushed and of course, being able to carry on a good conversation.

Arancia - Freshly squeezed orange juice

We were delighted to see freshly squeezed juices on the menu. Dad enjoyed his small fresh orange juice.

Uva - Freshly squeezed grape juice

While I was ecstatic over the taste of freshly squeezed grape juice. It bears no resemblance of the purple stuff in the store. It reminded me of my Uncle Jim and Aunt Dorothy's ranch where they grew grapes, and squeezed them fresh for juice in the morning as a special treat. I would come back just for this.


Dad was in the mood for Pancakes with pure New England Maple Syrup, and noted how good these fresh Italian flapjacks are.


I had a special Eggs Benedict - sauteed spinach, poached eggs and fresh crab cakes on filone bread with lobster cream sauce and parmesan; served with potatoes and caramelized onions.

Eggs Benedict w/crab close up

I was impressed that the waiter inquired how done I'd like my eggs. I chose medium. I loved my breakfast. It all melded together and just burst with flavor. I was so impressed with how beautiful the eggs looked, I had to take a close up. The cantaloupe and strawberries were was at their peak and the fruit was a nice finishing touch. Dad enjoyed his early Father's Day all the way through, and Alberto was so kind and thoughtful to my father which also added to his delight with the outing. This is a wonderful place to treat anyone.

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 0
Noncritical: 2
Last inspected: 4/24/2009

Previously reviewed:
December 3, 2008
December 21, 2006

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

I'll Toast to that


Dad and I met our friend, Linda last month at the new location of Toast in Novato. It's a new location for the restaurant that had its start in Mill Valley, and is still quite popular there. I remember being impressed with their breakfasts, how would dinner at the new location be? It seemed a good sign that although we were on the early side, there was still a line to get in, and it is a large space. The new Toast has a clean and happy look inside that is sure to please the casual diner.

Brick Chicken

Dad ordered the Brick Chicken which is half a deboned chicken that is served atop potato dumplings, spinach drizzled with natural jus. He liked it so much he cleaned every last bit off the plate, and half a chicken is usually an automatic take home box for an uneaten portion with him.

Salmon Special

Linda and I ordered a special, the Wasabi-encrusted Salmon which was served with fingerling potatoes and broccoli rab. It was all topped with some fresh thinly sliced cucumber and the sauce had a bit of dill. Linda substituted mashed potatoes for the fingerlings to good effect. I was afraid the wasabi might be overpowering, but it was PERFECT. I hope to find this on the special list again!


And after that half a chicken my Dad wanted dessert! He thoroughly enjoyed the TOAST Sundae.

Dessert Special

Linda and I decided to share a dessert special which was described as a custard with fresh fruit made with a dessert wine. Sounded interesting and the cool fruit idea was tempting as it was still a hot day (although Toast does have air conditioning). Unfortunately this was the one thing that disappointed both of us, so much so that we sent it back. If the waiter had just said that it's a version of Zabaglione we would have gotten the picture immediately and chosen accordingly (probably not for that evening). However the picture of 'custard' set a very different expectation so I think that was a lot of the problem. Overall, Toast was a great experience and a good value. I recommend it and definitely will be back for dinner again.

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 2
Noncritical: 1
Last inspected: 6/11/2009

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